The Information Regulator has now stepped in and demanded that Facebook offer South African users the same terms and conditions being offered to users in the European Union.
The regulator said South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (Popia) has created a privacy regime in the country that is “very similar” to the EU’s and “therefore believes that WhatsApp should adopt the EU policy in South Africa, and other countries in the global south that have similar regimes”.
“The regulator remains of the view that despite WhatsApp operating in different legal and regulatory environments, there are effectively two privacy policies,” it said, one for users living in Europe and another for those outside Europe.
“Given Facebook’s status as one of the world’s largest companies, the regulator is of the view that it should work together with other organisations to hold Facebook accountable,” it said.
It has engaged with the Global Privacy Assembly, of which it is a member, to obtain the view or position of the organisations on the revised Ts&Cs. It has also asked the portfolio committee on justice & correctional services to request Facebook South Africa and WhatsApp to appear in parliament to answer questions on the matter.
“We are obligated as the regulator to ensure the protection of personal information of all South African citizens and monitor compliance with Popia by responsible parties. We therefore will take this matter further and seek legal opinions and advocate for collaborated efforts,” said Information Regulator chair Pansy Tlakula.
Contacted for comment on Friday, a spokesman for Facebook said the company has responded to the Information Regulator to clarify that its recent update “does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook and does not impact the privacy of your messages with friends or family, wherever they are in the world”.
“WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook and that policy applies to users everywhere, including in South Africa. We remain fully committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone.” — © 2021 NewsCentral Media